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NASA Found Water on the Moon, Expected to Make an Impact in the Science Community

Scientists from Brown University devised a map that is able to locate water supplies on the moon. Astronauts may be able to use it for drinking water or fuel. Now that NASA found water on the moon, what impact will this make to the scientific community?

We’re only sensing the upper millimeter or so of soil, and we can’t say for sure what the water content is like underneath that.

According to a report by online tech publication The Register, researchers use data taken from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3). It is an imaging spectrometer onboard the Chandrayaan‑1 probe. It locates water molecules to create their map.

In 2009, NASA revealed that the M3 discovered hydroxyl molecules. It contains one oxygen and one hydrogen atom and water in the soil. By plotting the abundance of hydroxyl concentrations across the Moon’s latitude, researchers can now provide a map of the water levels evident on the surface.

“The signature of water is present nearly everywhere on the lunar surface, not limited to the polar regions as previously reported. The amount of water increases toward the poles and does not show significant difference among distinct compositional terrains,” Shuai Li, lead author of the paper, said.

NASA Found Water on the Moon: How Will It Help Astronauts?

Despite the map showing extremely small concentrations of water, experts believe the findings are important for astronauts. They might be able to extract the water from the soil. It may also them locate larger volumes of water deep beneath the surface.

Astronaut on moon

“This is a roadmap to where water exists on the surface of the Moon. Now that we have these quantitative maps showing where the water is and in what amounts, we can start thinking about whether or not it could be worthwhile to extract, either as drinking water for astronauts or to produce fuel,” Ralph Milliken, co-author of the paper, said.

“It remains to be seen whether extraction could be feasible. But these results show us what the range of water availability across the surface is, so we can start thinking about where we might want to go to get it and whether it makes economic sense to do so,” he added.

Water Activity on the Moon

In the same report by The Register, the map shows that the distribution of water is mostly uniform. It has levels decreasing from the poles to the equator. There are also large pockets of water concentrations near the equator. Scientists believe come from within the moon’s mantle and rose to the surface as magma.

Milliken says that the amount of water changes throughout the day. In the mornings and evenings, lunar soil is much wetter, but gets drier during the afternoons.

“It tells us that the process of water formation in the lunar soil is active and happening today. This raises the possibility that water may re-accumulate after extraction, but we need to better understand the physics of why and how this happens to understand the timescale over which water may be renewed,” he said.

“We’re only sensing the upper millimeter or so of soil, and we can’t say for sure what the water content is like underneath that. The distribution of water with depth could make a big difference in terms of how much water is actually there,” he added.

This map is making a bold impact on the science community. It could also lead to further discoveries that prove extraterrestrial life forms in space.

Verily Partner Space Opens Innovation Incubator for Health Startups

Verily, Alphabet’s life science research arm recently opened its doors to bio and health tech startups for “partner space.” This bold action is a different take on what other startup accelerators and coworking lab spaces are doing. Unlike their peers, Verily does not have to invest in these startups, and they can also rent laboratory space for these health tech ventures.

It has more than a dozen projects in the pipeline, including a contact lens capable of reading glucose levels. Verily is also working on assistive technology for the impaired.

Named the Verily Partner Space, the project gives startups access to shared space and facilities, the chance to work side by side with Verily researchers. This is an opportunity to share ideas in a highly innovative creative space. The goal is to provide a home for promising startups during the crucial formative years while they are still refining their business model and their technology.

This is not an outright rental of space, however. Verily will also be doing a venture review as there are only a limited number of slots for companies. There are already two slots allotted, namely Culture Robotics and Freenome. Culture Robotics is a startup which creates biotech tools. The other, Freenome, creates medical diagnostics tools and is currently working on an early-stage cancer test. Verily has equity investments in both these companies.

Verily has already worked with partners at their own space, with the idea that there would be better collaboration when researchers are in the same location. Among the companies which already research Verily are Onduo, Galvani Bioelectronics, and Verb Surgical. Onduo is a joint venture with Sanofi in researching diabetes tools. It makes use of both Sanofi’s pharmaceutical expertise and Verily’s analytics, software, and electronics expertise.

Galvani Bioelectronics is a joint undertaking with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop tiny electronic devices that attach to the nerve endings and used is in treating diseases. Verb Surgical is a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson in the development of robot surgical assistants.

These are separate companies and startups in their rights. These also happen to be collaborations with established companies. These companies make use of Verily facilities and serve as a form of prototype and template on how Partner Space will work. It just happens that these companies already have significant financial support.

 

Startup incubators often serve as offices for small startups. The nursery provides the needed equipment and workspace in exchange for equity. For Culture Robotics, choosing to partner with Verily allowed them to make use not only of the facilities and staff but also the opportunity to work close to Verily’s researchers. The high cost of office space in Silicon Valley was another critical consideration.

In turn, Verily is trying to find a symbiotic relationship with health startups. It has more than a dozen projects in the pipeline, including a contact lens capable of reading glucose levels. Verily is also working on assistive technology for the impaired. They have also made connections and partnerships with established health and pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Verily’s innovative Partner Space, including its collaborations and equity investments, all aim towards a grabbing a large part of the health and medical sector, all in all, worth an estimated $3 trillion. Other tech companies trying to compete in this space include Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.